Shootout at the cupcake corral 

Once upon a time, cupcakes belonged to the world of children’s birthday parties. No more. Thanks to the emergence of trendy cupcake shops here and abroad, over the past few years I’ve enjoyed a wedding cupcake, a graduation cupcake, a you’ve-had-a-hard-day-and-you’ve-earned-this cupcake … it goes on.  The beauty of a cupcake — what separates it from a mere slice of cake — is that it’s like a tiny gift, decorated and wrapped up, glazed with a vestige of youthful celebration. If you’re eating a cupcake, you must be special. Last weekend I got the girls — and one very special chihuahua — together for a sampling of 13 cupcakes from San Antonio’s premiere vendors of the tasty treats. It was a party.

White Chocolate Raspberry

Perfect for a tea party, this cupcake — topped with fruit glaze, a thumbprint of icing, and a raspberry — is guaranteed to charm the sweet-but-not-too-sweet tooth.

Appearance: 4
Moisture: 3
Wieldyness: 5
Frosting: 3.5
Overall Goodness: 4

Coconut Cream

This is world peace in a cupcake liner — assuming the world isn’t allergic. A tower of coconut frosting positively melts into the moist, filled cake below.

Appearance: 4
Moisture: 4
Wieldyness: 3
Frosting: 5
Overall Goodness: 5

Peanut Butter

The not-flashy chocolate cake plays second fiddle to Cupcake Couture’s luscious peanut-butter frosting, which has the consistency and intense flavor of whipped peanut-butter cookie dough.

Appearance: 4.5
Moisture: 3.5
Wieldyness: 3.5
Frosting: 5
Overall Goodness: 4

Italian Cream

Mouthwatering to look at, with its almond-sliver flower garnish, this cupcake actually tastes more like a mediocre muffin. Even the canine delegate of the cupcake summit disapproved.

Appearance: 4.5
Moisture: 2
Wieldyness: 3
Frosting: 4
Overall Goodness: 1

Peanut Butter

Central Market scored extra points for topping this treat with peanuts as well as chocolate and peanut-butter chips, but the garnishes couldn’t save the frosting below — which tasted like pure shortening — nor could the average chocolate cake.

Appearance: 4.5
Moisture: 3
Wieldyness: 3
Frosting: 1
Overall Goodness: 2.5

Chocolate Mousse

You may have to dislocate your jaw serpent-style to bite into this yummy monster of a cupcake — horns of shaved chocolate add extra height — but its dense, smooth chocolate-mousse frosting is totally worth it.

Appearance: 5
Moisture: 3
Wieldyness: 1
Frosting: 4.5
Overall Goodness: 4

Creamsicle

The heft of Kate’s Creamsicle cupcake is balanced by its light, creamy orange flavor. If you never thought a cupcake could be refreshing on a hot summer day, chill this one for just a few minutes and enjoy.

Appearance: 4
Moisture: 4
Wieldyness: 3.5
Frosting: 4.5
Overall Goodness: 3.5

Strawberry

The flash of pink icing dashed with sugar certainly draws the eye — and awakens the stomach. Yet, however delicious the individual components of this dessert are, the flavor grows monotonous after a few juicy bites.

Appearance: 4
Moisture: 5
Wieldyness: 3.5
Frosting: 4.5
Overall Goodness: 3.5

Ruby Slipper

Melt-in-your-mouth red velvet cake (just like grandma’s) is crowned with airy cream-cheese frosting and a jewel of a candy-coated cherry. You may find yourself wishing for plain buttercream, but you’ll get over it.

Appearance: 5
Moisture: 5
Wieldyness: 4
Frosting: 3
Overall Goodness: 4

Boston Cream

A single freckle of custard atop the chocolate icing of Cupcake Junction’s Boston Cream cupcake foreshadows the moist filling to be found within — this fusion of sweet treats is both balanced and scrumptious.

Appearance: 4
Moisture: 4
Wieldyness: 3
Frosting: 5
Overall Goodness: 4.5

Oreo

These layers of moist chocolate and vanilla cake deserve better than the middling, almost H-E-B-birthday-cake-tasting Oreo frosting they’re stuck with. Isn’t the best part of the Oreo supposed to be the icing?

Appearance: 5
Moisture: 5
Wieldyness: 3
Frosting: 3
Overall Goodness: 3.5

Banana Split

Neapolitan shades of frosting join a sprinkle of nuts and an oozing cherry on Cupcake Junction’s banana cupcake. Pair it with a cup of coffee on a sleep-in day, and don’t forget the whipped cream.

Appearance: 4.5
Moisture: 4
Wieldyness: 2.5
Frosting: 4
Overall Goodness: 3.5

Triple Chocolate

Chocolate frosting, chocolate cake, chocolate chocolates inside. This treat seems to have it all, but what it needs is a little more time in the lab — the cake isn’t dense enough to hold the chocolates, and I ended up with a big, sweet, crumbly mess on my hands.

Appearance: 5
Moisture: 2
Wieldyness: 1
Frosting: 2.5
Overall Goodness: 2.5



Kate’s Frosting proprietrix
Kate-Frost Feild (real name)
holds the star of our
cupcake cover, the Ruby Slipper.

THE SHOPS

Kate’s Frosting >>
2518 N. Main, (210) 248-9809 1020 Townsend, (210) 248-9009 katesfrosting.net
Cupcakes aren’t the only treats to be found at Kate’s Frosting; the Main Street shop also stocks bangles, bags, art, and more. A super-friendly staff and cozy seating areas for adults and kiddos make Kate’s a sweet hangout.
Prices: $1.25-$4

<< Cupcake Couture11851 Bandera Rd, Helotes (210) 695-4266 4710 Broadway (210) 595-6375 cupcakecouturesa.com
Cupcake Couture was packing ’em in at its prime (but tiny) Broadway location on the afternoon I visited. The extra-high cupcake display case makes the most of the tight space, and the marble countertop is classy.
Prices: $2.25 

Central Market 4821 Broadway (210) 368-8600 centralmarket.com
Chances are you’ll be tempted by treats sweet and savory in H-E-B’s gourmet grocery store. The bakery — which offers pies, éclairs, and the like, in addition to cupcakes — is unfortunately located far from seating and the coffee bar.
Prices: $1.99-2.99 

Cupcake Junction 9714 Potranco (210) 682-1000
Nestled in a gray strip mall on Potranco, Cupcake Junction is easy to miss — you’ve got to keep your eye out for the windows painted with giant baked goods. But the shop’s daring cupcake flavors, helpful employees, and available seating make it worth seeking out.
Prices: $.90 - $2.50


More by Ashley Lindstrom

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